New regulations threaten wine business. Again.

If you are a foreign winery exporting wine into Russia, then you do remember 2006 – the EGAIS scandal with new licensing and stamps that delivered Russia from most of fine wine for some 2-3 months when we were astonishingly observing empty shelves where the imported wine used to proudly stand. Since then the market has almost recovered.

But the Russian government and the Ministry of Mr. Onischenko do not sleep. All this time their minds were actively working on new barriers to make wine imports even harder. And a new Customs Union between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan gave a really nice opportunity to create some new sophisticated bureaucratic tools to benefit well on wine business. New licensing was the first bird in winter 2010 – all of a sudden the importers were put in front of the fact that they have to re-certificate most of their bottles. If you remember that EGAIS (the electronic system controlling the turnover of the alcoholic products) was set up to cancel some stupid paper licenses. But in 2010 the licenses came back – and amazingly EGAIS was not cancelled. The new rules also made almost impossible to send wine samples to Russia via ordinary transport companies like DHL or TNT. But this is a minor problem compared to the others stupid rules we have now.

The new set of required documents is an awful headache for any wine importer. If you take a look at the list you will immediately be able to estimate the amount of stupidity we live in:

  • Declaration of compliance
  • Sanitary-epidemiologic inference (in 2010 was abolished)

Additionally with new regulations we are obliged to have the following documents for every represented winery:

  • Declaration from wine producer that his wine doesn’t contain GMO (in free form!)
  • Declaration from wine producer that his wine doesn’t contain pesticides
  • Declaration that his wine doesn’t contain nanomaterials (hell knows that it means)
  • A power of attorney from wine producer that he entrusts a wine importer to represent his interests and sell his wines in Russia
  • ISO 9001 certificate

Did I mention that all these documents must be legally translated into Russian and come with apostil? But this is just a part of the fun! Wine importer is also required to pass the following documents to the government body:

  • A sealed and signed copy of every wine label – front and back sides
  • A copy of the appellation rules and any other technical regulations of wine production – all translated into Russian and with apostil
  • Samples of wines with the supportive letters from wine producer confirming that these samples had been sent by the wine producer himself (!!!)

Seems like this nightmare is just a routine way of thinking in the Russian government which is aimed to have more taxes, charges and duties importers currently pay. After all this should anyone be amazed that the prices for the importer wines in Russia are at least two times higher than anywhere else? Add a 20% tax, transportation costs and make your own conclusions.For now we are still able to sell wines but we are looking into the new year with alarm and anxiety – ready for any new kind of surprises from the government.

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